AMERICAN AIRLINES FLIGHT 587
On November 12, 2001 at 9.14 am the AA 587 took off from the J. F. Kennedy airport in New York en route to the Dominican Republic. In exactly 106 seconds after the take-off it went down over the Jamaica Bay and crashed in Belle Harbor area, Queens, NY, killing 260 people on the plane (including both of my parents) and 5 people on the ground. It was the second worst air tragedy in the history of aviation in the US.
It happened on a sunny and clear day, without wind. Mechanically and electrically the plane was in perfect condition. The pilots were healthy, sober, rested and experienced. It was not a terror act. So what had gone wrong?
The immediate cause of the crash according to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) was "in-flight separation of the vertical stabilizer as a result of the loads beyond ultimate design..." The investigation by the NTSB has found out that the following are responsible for the crash:
1. Inadequate pilot training program by the American Airlines;
American trains pilots to extensively use the rudder. Nobody at American realizes that under certain conditions the forces on the rudder can far exceed what an airplane is designed to withstand. At the American Airlines they believe that no matter what you do in the air to the plane it should not break up. Not true!
Also, the use of a simulator during training is not realistic.
2. Flawed design of the rudder control system on all A300-600 model planes (actually all Airbus models except for A300B2/B4);
It is way TOO sensitive to the point of being unsafe.
3. poor judgement by the pilot.
These lead any reasonable person to conclude that as things stand now flying Airbus aircraft (except for older A300B2/B4) IS NOT SAFE!!!! It is more so when it is piloted by the AA pilots.
What needs to be done? The flying public should demand the following:
1. The American Airlines must change their pilot training program to incorporate the findings from the NTSB;
2. Airbus must change the design of the rudder control system to make it less sensitive to a pilot's input at high speeds (see NTSB report #pb2004-910404)
3. Until that is done demand that no airlines purchase Airbus planes until the rudder control system is modified.
Alan Garcia, Executive VP, Engineering, email@example.com
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